Letter from Pertinax Townly

Miss Porden

Mr Editor! Mr Editor!

“Oh that the Gods had made me poetical!” or at least bit me with the mania of writing romances. Positive House would have been the finest school imaginable — Adventure follows adventure, as swift as the waves of the sea, each stranger than the last. This morning we all assembled in one form, for Lord Aircastle to place the crown of golden laurel on the head of Mrs Bustleton; that is, we did not all assemble, for Atticus and Rodelinda were found missing. We supposed they were rambling in the grounds, but as Lord Aircastle was ready, of course they were not to be waited for. But marvel of marvels! When the iron box which ought to have contained the golden one was opened, it was not there! and the papers which appeared in its stead transferred their pale hue to the countenance of Electromagus, and seemed to suggest the idea that sorcery was indeed busy with the affairs of the Positive House. In full sight appeared a note from Atticus, stating that he had espoused the fascinating Rodelinda, and secured the gold box as his legitimate property, having really written the Aeronautiad, and that he felt himself justified in the disclosure as Mrs Bustleton had neglected to discharge that and various other debts, on pretence that her jointure was not duly paid. Besides this, the box contained rough copies of many poems fathered by various members of Positive House with a list of jobs unpaid for (where I appear as a principal creditor) with a short address, soliciting the influence of Lord Aircastle and Electromagus, to obtain their speedy discharge.

Really, Mr Editor, I have no wish to elude his claims, but had (between ourselves) arranged this joke with him, little suspecting Electromagus would feel the matter seriously. I had certainly thought him as much knave as fool, and enjoyed the idea of his detection, but it affects him so deeply to find that his pupils have purchased what he thought he had inspired them to write, that I shall do my best to comfort him, and place him in some more eligible situation. The association of Positive House will of course be immediately dissolved — Our Patron is gone, and Mrs Bustleton, who accompanied him, has perchance ere this, assumed the title of Lady Aircastle. Atticus and Rodelinda are of course disposed of. Philemon, to whom (now all little jealousies are over) I frankly acknowledge many obligations, will soon be happy in the hand of the engaging Lady Olivia, and as you know I was always a votary of fashion. If my fair Erminia be propitious I shall not be backward in following so pleasing a path. By the bye, I find she has accepted Atticus’s assistance in her verses, but I must not be angry. It is half shame apiece.

I was called away just as I had written the above. I have seen Erminia. She cannot resist the example of royalty. This evening will unite us — My barouche is at the door. Excuse so abrupt a conclusion. I have only time to enclose a copy of Atticus’s list found in the box and promise that you shall again hear speedily from

yours ever faithfully

Pertinax Townly

Poems unpaid for

The Lover’s Calendar for 1814 (Sir Pertinax Townly)   6s 6d
Ode by Mrs Bustleton on Lord Aircastle’s visit £2 2s 0d
An attempt, by a pupil of Electromagus, charged to Sir Pertinax at the usual rate for amatory verses   10s 6d
“Tis true the net of pearl and gold”   6s 6d
“And did I say that Love was o’er”   6s 6d
NB These two last poems were written for Mr Beauclerc, who sent them to the fair Erminia who left them for Sir Pertinax Townly, who adopted them as his own. I shall not accept payment for them as they are to be set against “A Lesson for Lovers” and other trifles received gratuitously from Mr Beauclerc.
The said “Lesson for Lovers” sold to Sir Pertinax for £3 3s 0d
The Glass of Grog by Mrs Bustleton (charged as a Parody)   5s 6d
The Philosopher at the Fair, written at the request of Sir P.T. to satirize Mr Beauclerc — charged high on account of its classic learning and the books I was forced to borrow in consequence £5 5s 0d
Translation of a Hebrew Valentine signed Erminia   5s 6d
Do. signed Jessica   7s 0d
Esculapius and Ruspini (Mrs Bustleton charged as commendatory verses)   10s 6d
“When Norway’s Monarch knelt to gain” Sir P.T.   14s 0d
“The flowers are bright on hill and dale” worth   7s 0d
Gratuitous to Philemon for Erminia.
First Chapter of a Novel for Mrs Bustleton and prospectus for the rest £20 0s 0d
“The Fairies’ Song” by Lady Olivia Gossamer   12s 0d
NB This is the only occasion on which Lady Olivia honoured me with her commands.
The Leyden Jar* for Sir Pertinax Townly £2 2s 0d
Ten poetical scraps for Sir Pertinax Townly at 3/6 each, and 4 at five shillings £4 6s 6
Do. occasional poems for Mrs Bustleton 6 amatory 5/6d each, 10 satirical at 7/0 and 15 heroic at 10/6 £13 0s 6d
The Aeronautiad for Mrs Bustleton at the usual rate for blank verse 9d per line £9 12s 9d
Do. additional charge for 3 new similes introduced at 1/3d each 3s 9d
£64 7s 0d

* This is Mr Editor I think an exorbitant charge, as the poem is certainly not worth half the money, and has been influenced more by the leaden coating than the electric fire. The next charge is more moderate.